8 Discoveries in Sydney’s Inner West for Norton Street Italian Festa-goers

By Leigh O’Connor.

Long the territory of passionate West Tigers fans and the heart of Sydney’s ‘Little Italy,’ the city’s inner western suburbs are a roaring hub of cafes, trattorias, bakeries and shopping destinations. Home to one of Australia’s largest street festivals, Leichhardt lures more than 140,000 visitors each year to the Norton Street Italian Festa on Sunday, October 29.

For one day, Norton Street is transformed into a length of market stalls, great food and wine – with a long, communal table for family and friends to gather and enjoy delicious fare. Now in its 31st year, those attending will be spoilt for choice with food, fun and entertainment, along with Sydney’s largest collection of Italian cars including Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini and Ferrari.

Luciano & Martino - The Italianos at Norton Street Italian Festa.

Why not make a weekend of it… stay overnight, enjoy local restaurants and attractions, soaking up a rich diversity of culture, food and wine that makes Sydney the melting pot of Australia.

Here’s a few suggestions to take a wander in the West…

Italian Forum

Discover a sophisticated slice of Europe at Italian Forum on Norton Street, where touches of Tuscan architecture and shades of tan and burnt red create a stunning setting for designer boutiques, showcasing the best of international and Australian fashion.

Cafes and restaurants nestle around an outdoor piazza and the adjoining Cultural Centre, which doubles as a performing and visual arts venue, as well as a multi-purpose function facility. Meander past alfresco tables and admire the marble fountain crowned by a statue of Dante, revelling in a relaxing ambiance of awnings, pillars and cobblestones.

Palace Norton Street

Take a break from pounding the streets and put the feet up at Palace Norton Street cinema, one of Sydney’s most comfortable and well-equipped theatres in the middle of vibrant Leichhardt. Screening the world’s best arthouse and Hollywood movies, the Palace hosts international film festivals each year along with special sessions for parents and babies every Thursday.

Perhaps take in an offering from the Cunard British Film Festival presented by Palace from late October until November 15, after unwinding with a pre-show drink on the Summer Terrace, complete with astroturf, citrus trees and comfortable Acapulco chairs.

Boomalli Aboriginal Artists’ Co-operative

Celebrating 30 years of encouraging Aboriginal art in 2017, Boomalli on Flood Street in Leichhardt has enabled hundreds of indigenous artists to showcase their work. With a main gallery for major exhibitions and smaller rooms for members to mount and curate solo shows, Boomalli has assisted its members to achieve excellence in their work and bring their special talents to the wider community.

The gallery is staging a 30th anniversary founding members exhibition opening on Friday, November 3 at 6pm, curated by Djon Mundine OAM and featuring work by the 10 original artists from the first show - ‘Boonalli Au Go Go.’ Open from Wednesday to Sunday, it is an ideal place to stop and take in the cultural creativity of this great nation.

Burgers by Josh Annandale

Feeling peckish after walking the streets, drop into Burgers by Josh on Parramatta Road. With humble beginnings as a pop-up stall around Sydney’s CBD, this gourmet burger joint now draws loyal crowds to a permanent home inside the Annandale Hotel.

Find a cosy corner or bar table to relax, kick back and chow down on a hunger buster like The J Burger – Josh’s signature Wagyu blend with American cheese, iceberg lettuce, onions and sweet and spicy pickles - perfect with sides of buffalo wings with blue cheese dipping sauce and popcorn chicken with house ranch.

Sneaky Possum

Those looking for smart food in a relaxed setting can’t go past Sneaky Possum on Abercrombie Street in Chippendale. From the indigenous murals adorning inside and out to a rustic timber accented décor, this restaurant is full of surprises, including a Mod Oz menu with creative new twists.

Be tempted by dinner options like kangaroo tartare with egg yolk, cornichon and pepper berry dressing to start, followed by paperbark roasted duck breast with beetroot, Warrigal greens and truffles; while for a decadent dessert, dip a spoon into rhubarb parfait with passionfruit, almond and coconut.

Chef Paolo Gatto will be entertaining his fans at this year's Norton Street Italian Festa. See him on stage! 

Alegrias Spanish Tapas

Authentic Mediterranean cuisine awaits diners at Alegrias Spanish Tapas on Darling Street in Balmain. Plush décor, hardwood flooring and dangling chandeliers create an ideal setting for smart, casual dining at this split-level Sydney restaurant, where a focus on fresh, local produce features in a shared tapas plate menu.

Salivate over morsels like cured chorizo, served with rustic bread and extra virgin olive oil, or perhaps housemade chicken and duck pate, teamed with a Spanish cheese platter with fresh fruit, quince paste and wafers.

Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

After exploring the inner west, it’s time to sit back and relax in style at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth in the heart of the city centre. This luxurious escape boasts a combination of modern design and heritage listed tradition throughout elegant accommodation options, ranging from classic rooms to prestige suites.

Each room features mood lighting, marble bathrooms and specialty Sofitel MyBeds, ensuring comfort and relaxation are the highest priority. Those looking to unwind, can complement their stay with a visit to the Elixir Health Club, or shop at boutique stores on level two of the Wentworth Arcade.

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

While in Sydney, take in a show at the Lyric Theatre such as Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. Long before she was a chart-topping legend, Carole King was an ordinary girl with extraordinary talent and her music became the soundtrack to a generation.

She fought her way into the record industry as a teenager and sold her first hit, ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ at just 17. By the time she was 20, Carole was writing number ones for acts like The Drifters, Aretha Franklin and The Monkees.

‘Beautiful’ is the inspiring story of Carole’s journey from schoolgirl to superstar, becoming one of the most successful solo acts in pop music history. Featuring Esther Hannaford as Carole and Josh Piterman as her husband Gerry Goffin, this musical is not to be missed.

Socials for Norton Street Italian Festa: 

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